Awareness and education on mental disorders in teenagers reduce stigma for mental illness: a preliminary study

L’informazione e la sensibilizzazione sui disturbi mentali negli adolescenti riducono lo stigma nei confronti della malattia mentale: uno studio preliminare

A. Del Casale1,2, G. Manfredi1,2, G.D. Kotzalidis1,2, D. Serata1,3, C. Rapinesi1,3, F. Caccia1, V. Caccia 1, C. Brugnoli 1, S.S. Caltagirone 1, L. De Chiara 1, S.M. Tamorri 1, G. Angeletti1,2, R. Brugnoli1,2, R. Haghighat5, R. Tatarelli1,2, P. Girardi1,2,3 1

NESMOS Department (Neurosciences, Mental Health, and Sensory Organs), Sapienza University, Rome, School of Medicine and Psychology; Sant’Andrea Hospital, Rome, Italy; 2 AILAS, Associazione Italiana per la Lotta allo Stigma (Italian Association for the Fight Against Stigma); 3 Department of Neuropsychiatry, Villa Rosa, Suore Hospitaliere of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Viterbo, Italy; 4 Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy; 5 Department of Psychiatry, UCL Medical School, London

Background and aims

Campaigns providing information about illness may help to overcome social stigma against people with mental health problems. This study evaluates the efficacy of an educational project conducted among teenagers attending high school, aimed at increasing mental health knowledge and challenging negative stereotypes linked to mental illness.


A group of high-school students aged between 16 and 18 years underwent a training consisting of four instructive and interactive lessons with multimedia material. Students completed Haghighat’s Standardized Stigmatization Questionnaire (SSQ) to assess stigmatising processes before the first lesson and at the end of the last lesson.


Students showed a significant reduction of stigma attributed to mental disorders by other members of the community after the acquisition of new information about mental health.


The lack of knowledge on mental health and psychic distress is a key factor in determining the phenomena of social stigma, and brief educational trainings can positively change reported attitudes towards people with mental illness.

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